BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION
The present invention relates to a beverage bottle that
is squeezable and, more particularly, to a beverage bottle that, while being squeezable,
also has sufficient radial rigidity to permit hot-filling of the bottle and to prevent
damage or deformation to the bottle during its handling.
Squeezable beverage bottles, though initially used primarily
by bicyclists and other athletes, are now widely used primarily due to the increasing
consumption of sports beverages. Such bottles are typically sized to be easily held
in one hand and contain a serving size suitable for a single person. The bottle
includes a recloseable valve at the top sized to be held between the consumer's
lips, through which the beverage is discharged by squeezing the bottle.
There has been a proliferation of different squeeze bottle
designs. However, the desire to have a bottle that is relatively easy to squeeze
by the consumer in manner to control the rate at which the beverage is dispensed
through the valve conflicts with the need to have a bottle that has sufficient radial
rigidity --or resistance to squeezing-- to withstand the rigors of filling, shipping,
dispensing, etc. Specifically, the bottles are typically filled in a hot-filling
operation, where the bottles are filled and hermetically sealed with liquid above
ambient temperature, yet stored at ambient or refrigerated temperatures. This causes
the liquid and gas headspace to contract in volume after the sealing of the bottle.
Consequently, the pressure in the bottle is lower than ambient pressure, resulting
in a vacuum force that tends to collapse the bottle. Additional vacuum is created
during long-term storage due to the permeation of water vapor to the bottle interior.
Thus, the bottles need to resist collapse due to this vacuum pressure.
Accordingly, it is an object for the present invention
to provide a beverage bottle whose contains are to be dispensed by squeezing the
bottle that is both relatively easy of the user to squeeze and also have sufficient
radial rigidity to resist damage and/or undesired deformation.
SUMMARY OF INVENTION
This object is attained by the bottle of appended claim
This object, as well as others that will become apparent
upon reference to the following detailed description and accompanying drawings are
accomplished by a squeezable bottle that has a hollow body with an intermediate
panel section that is bounded by upper and lower recessed reinforcing rings. The
intermediate panel comprises a plurality of recessed gripper rings, each of which
is bounded by a pair a raised reinforcing rings. A plurality of recessed vertical
ribs extends between the upper and lower recessed reinforcing rings and through
the raised reinforcing rings. The vertical ribs are spaced asymmetrically about
the vertical axis of the bottle. In a preferred embodiment, there is an odd number
of vertical ribs which are equally spaced about the circumference of the bottle.
In the disclosed embodiment, there are seven vertical ribs and four gripper rings.
BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS
Fig. 1 is a perspective view of squeezable bottle according
to the present invention.
Fig. 2 is an elevational view of the squeezable bottle
shown in Fig. 1.
Fig. 3 is a elevational view similar to Fig. 2, except
that the bottle is rotated approximately 50° about its vertical axis.
Fig. 4 is a top view of the bottle of Fig. 1.
Fig. 5 is a bottom view of the bottle of Fig. 1.
Fig. 6 is cross-sectional view taken along lines 6-6 of
Turning to.the drawings, there is seen in Fig. 1 a perspective
view of a squeezable bottle 10 according to the present invention. The bottle is
preferably made from PETE by blow molding in the well known manner.
The bottle 10 includes a base 12 that is segmented and
recessed for additional strength. Above the base 12 is a radial, outwardly-projecting
lower bumper 14 and a radial, recessed ring 16. Directly above the recessed ring
16 is a an inventive panel section, generally designated 18, which will be described
in detail below.
Above the panel section 18 is an upper recessed ring 20
and outwardly projecting bumper 22, similar to the lower recessed ring 16 and bumper
14. Above the bumper 22 is a recessed circumferential ring 24, which defines the
lower the edge of tapered shoulder or dome section 26.
The upper end of the bottle 10 terminates in a neck finish
28 with outer threads 30 for receiving a removable screw cap (not shown) and a neck
flange 32. The screw cap typically includes an internally threaded base portion
that engages the outer threads 30 on the neck finish 28. The upper end of the cap
terminates in a nozzle that is manipulated by the consumer to move between open
and closed positions. See e.g., U.S. Patents Nos. 4,967,941, 6,338,425, Des. 402,889,
and Des. 405,693.
Beverage is dispensed from the bottle 10 when the nozzle
is opened and the side wall of the bottle squeezed to create an internal pressure
on the liquid contents. The rate at which the beverage is dispensed from the bottle
depends on the degree to which pressure is created on the contents through squeezing
the sidewalls. Thus, it is desirable that the side be configured to permit easy,
controllable deformation by squeezing with one hand. However, the sidewalls must
also be sufficiently rigid and resistant to deformation so as to withstand the vacuum
created by hot-filling and rough handling that may occur during manufacture, shipping
Consequently, in keeping with the present invention, the
panel section 18 is uniquely configured to satisfy these conflicting design criteria.
The panel section 18 includes a plurality of recessed circumferential rings 34a-d
located between the lower recessed ring 16 and upper recessed ring 20. Raised rings
36a-e bound each ring 34a-d.
Each of the recessed rings 34a-d is configured to comfortably
seat one human finger so that the bottle can be firmly gripped in one hand by the
consumer. As shown, there are four recessed gripping rings 34a-d, one gripper ring
for each finger. However, different numbers of gripping rings can be used without
departing from the present invention.
Importantly, the panel section 18 includes a plurality
of vertical recessed ribs 38 extending through the gripping rings 34a-d and the
raised rings 36a-e between the lower recessed ring 16 and the upper recessed ring
20. These vertical ribs 36 cause the side panel to have a plurality of vertically-orientated
gripper segments 40a-g, best seen in Fig. 6. The vertical ribs 36 reduce the radial
strength created by the recessed gripper rings 34a-d to a degree sufficient to permit
the panel section 18 to be squeezably deformed to controllably dispense its contents.
In a significant aspect of the invention, the vertical
ribs 38 are spaced circumferentially about the panel section 18 so that none of
the vertical ribs 38 is diametrically opposite to any other vertical rib. This lack
of symmetry helps to insure that the bottle 10 still has sufficient radial rigidity
to withstand the stresses of its anticipated hot-filling and handling.
If the vertical ribs 38 are equally spaced about the circumference
of the panel section 18 (as in the illustrated embodiment), there should be an odd
number of vertical ribs 38 to insure that none are diametrically opposed. In the
illustrated embodiment, there are seven vertical ribs 38. However, the number vertical
ribs may be varied so long as the bottle still meets the two criteria of squeezability
Thus, a squeezable bottle that meets the objects of the
present invention has been disclosed. While the bottle has been described in terms
of a preferred embodiment, there is no intent to limit the invention to the same.
Instead, the invention is defined by the scope of the appended claims.